Q. Our family recently moved from Ohio, where our parishes were
united as to when the congregation knelt or stood. (Universally, we knelt
during the consecration.)
In the new parish, roughly half of the congregation stands
throughout the consecration while the other half kneels. Our family follows our
old habit of kneeling, but this lack of uniformity feels awkward to us.
In other churches we have attended in our new area, everyone
seems to kneel at this time of the Mass. What is your opinion? (Since we are
new here, we don't feel comfortable yet asking our priest.) (New York)
A. The answer to your question is simple and
straightforward. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that "in
the dioceses of the United States of America, they (i.e., the congregation)
should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus (Holy,
Holy, Holy) until after the amen of the eucharistic prayer, except when
prevented on occasion by ill health, or for reasons of lack of space, of the
large number of people present or for another reasonable cause" (No. 43).
So people in your parish are correct in kneeling. The common
posture of the congregation is a symbol of a community at worship united by
faith, and it also fosters that sense of unity.
It is true that in many parts of the world the congregation does
stand for most of the eucharistic prayer (except for the consecration, when
everyone kneels), but the bishops of the U.S. felt that kneeling is regarded by
Americans as the most reverential posture and is therefore the one most
suitable for the entire eucharistic prayer.
Note that the language of the guideline does provide for
exceptions; I have celebrated Mass, for example, in a multipurpose building
with only folding chairs and no kneelers.
Questions may be sent to Fr. Doyle at
email@example.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, N.Y. 12203.